As I’ve mentioned before, my stylista tendencies have started rubbing off on my mom, much to my delight and my dad’s chagrin. We’ve done our fair share of mother-daughter shopping trips over the last few years, which has allowed me to keep an eye on the things she buys and ensure that the “frump” factor is dialed as low as possible. After all, my mom is a smokin’ lady and her clothes need to reflect that.
Having said that, she’s become fairly adept at finding flattering pieces in proportions that work for her body type. When she recently asked me to help her tweak some of her more recently-acquired outfits, there wasn’t much for me to do – she had most of the basics down. Still, this gave me an idea. With her help, I put together a short list of styling “rules” for the “advanced”; these are minor tweaks that can help take an outfit from good to great. For the photos below, I took an outfit that my mom had put together (left), and made a few changes of my own(right). Let’s take a look!
#1: Don’t be too matchy-matchy
This is a great temptation for people experimenting with prints for the first time. There is nothing inherently wrong with matching your top to your skirt to your shoes (as my mom is wont to do). But if you want to kick up the style another notch or two, don’t be afraid to step outside the comfort zone. The easiest way to do that is to still match … but in less obvious ways. In the outfit on the right, we picked up on the light grey accent colour in the skirt and went with a grey tank top and grey heels. None of these greys matched exactly, but they had the same cool, greenish undertones, which helped make the outfit look cohesive (and set off the pinks of the skirt).
If you want to try this at home: when working with prints, pick one of the secondary colours in the print and use that as your “accessory” colour. If both your primary and accessory colours are strong, use black to anchor the look together. For example, if your accessory colour is purple, and you use it in your shoes choice, you can go with a black jacket or cardigan (and vice versa).
Be adventurous with colour
Again, there is nothing wrong with a monochromatic wardrobe. Black, in particular, is a style “safety blanket” for a lot of people. But nothing invigorates an outfit more quickly than colour. If you’re a colour-phobe, you can start with a little accent here and there (like my mom did in her outfit pick, left). Once you get more comfortable, it’s time to experiment. In most cases, three different colours per outfit is a maximum (and it’s probably best left to the professionals), but two – plus a neutral, like black – is pretty easy. Don’t be afraid to pair colours from the opposite side of spectrum – they will create the biggest impact.
Don’t be afraid of BIG prints
Just like colour, prints scare off a lot of people. No need! No matter what size you are, there is a print out there that you can pull off. In fact, nine times out of ten, a larger print is probably the way to go. Small prints can look fussy, dated and, in some cases, can make a person look bigger than the person really is. Prints are a really easy way to add visual interest to simple pieces, and to infuse a little bit of trendiness into a classic look (hello, leopard print!).
And, as I’ve said before, never be afraid to tuck in. It may not work in every situation, but you won’t know that until you try it.
And a couple of final tweaks
Here are a few short takes: (1) if you are more of a pear-shape and want to de-emphasize your hips, wear the darkest colour of your outfit on the bottom; (2) if you’re not very tall and/or have a shorter neck, avoid high crew necklines and show off some of your collarbone (a long necklace always helps elongate the neck, too); (3) make sure your top and/or skirt lies straight across your stomach without “dipping” in front – this avoids the creation of an illusory “pooch”.
Got a style question? Want your own style session or shopping trip with me? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.